IndependentSport View – Itai Dzamara
SO there we are! At a real crossroads in local cricket? No, well beyond the crossroads. We were at the crossroads when opportunities still existed for the fire t
o be extinguished.
We were dragged away from the crossroads by the Zimbabwe Cricket Union (ZCU) and are now sinking in the abyss.
ZCU chairman Peter Chingoka’s gallant performance is left with probably the very last over before it completely annihilates the once thriving sport. Cricket is almost bowled out. And at the rate at which the ZCU board’s inconsistency coupled with confusion are taking wickets, it won’t be long before the batting order crumbles. The sport will definitely lose by as much as an inning and more than 200 runs. And it will join in history a certain Zimbabwe team of yesteryear.
I remember receiving a threatening call from someone who merely identified himself as a “government official whose role is watching people like you Dzamara” some four weeks ago when this saga was still in its infancy.
“Your problem is in failing to believe blacks can also do it like whites. You are a sell-out. But you will be shamed soon when sanity prevails and the youngsters perform beyond expectations,” I conveniently recorded him as saying.
It has almost become a soap opera now before his prophecy comes true – one moment the rebel players are fired – the next the union reverses its decision. It grants another 21-day grace period. But before you even readjust, the players are re-fired again.
One moment the ZCU agrees in principle to have International Cricket Council (ICC) chief executive officer Malcolm Speed come to Zimbabwe for meetings with the union and the rebellious group. But even before he lands at Harare International Airport, ZCU has other ideas and subsequently snubs him.
In a pathetic plea that exposes desperation, Chingoka begs nations to tour Zimbabwe saying all is well.
And then it is announced the ZCU has decided, consulted and agreed with Australia to “postpone” the Test matches to “a later date to be reached at after consulting with the ICC”.
Oh, my foot! Which ICC? The same with the CEO they had just snubbed because he wanted to be an honest and impartial mediator. Talk of double standards!
But who is fooling who here? And who, or what force is behind the baffling inconsistency and farcical confusion emanating from the ZCU?
I have argued in this column before that the worst thing Chingoka could have done was joining the Zanu PF populist bandwagon. Surrendering cricket to the winds of political madness code-named Fourth Chimurenga would forever be regretted by generations to come.
Whoever doubts or has the audacity to debate the fact that it will take Zimbabwe a long time to rebuild an internationally acceptable cricket team must have their heads examined. We understand and sincerely sympathise with those tasked with safeguarding and producing propaganda. But it is hoped that after the whitewash by Sri Lanka the painful truth just has to be accepted.
And you must be naive enough to the extent of expecting a peaceful democratic change of government in this country tomorrow if you looked forward to a gallant performance by the Zimbabwe cricket team against Australia.
We realistically stare in the face an embarrassing expulsion from the prestigious group of Test playing nations.
Much as probably the ICC could have wanted to save the situation and use some diplomacy, it is unfathomable to imagine any of the Test playing nations willing to engage such a shambolic Zimbabwe.
And those in the forefront of Fourth Chimurenga will tell you – like they have done before – that “We can do without them”.
Indeed, words are pretty easy to utter. Moreso with a rented crowd cheering you on despite the majority’s glaring ignorance of what in the hell you would be waffling about. The truth usually leaves you in not so long a time though, at your rightful place when the effects of empty and fatuous rhetoric start showing.
Zimbabwe’s membership of the ICC’s Test playing nations has immense benefits which when lost, would need a whole generation to recover.
Firstly, the commendable development in local cricket, an envy of many in Africa, was mostly realised during the last 11 years we have been in the group of Test playing nations. Funding for development accessed through the ICC by Test playing nations would be history once Zimbabwe is booted out.
To think of “going it alone” would be another deceptive dream!
ZCU’s financial statements for last year, which show massive profits in excess of $20 billion attribute quite a substantive amount to developmental grants from the ICC. The other big chunk obtained through the international mother body came from television rights and merchandising revenue for Test matches.
And of course there is the opportunity of playing in the World Cup, the Triangular Series and other junior tournaments that is accorded to competitive and well- organised nations. Zimbabwe laboured to attain that status. Sadly, a few individuals will drag these achievements down the drain in a very short space of time. So far it is only seven weeks.
Even the local sponsors, I hear, have reminded the ZCU to put its house in order or they withdraw.
Now, Chingoka owes the nation an explanation, by the way he is answerable to the nation as long as he holds that public office at ZCU, on who or what exactly is directing the ship straight to the iceberg.
One thing is clear here. Chingoka and his colleagues on the ZCU board have lost authority over this chaos. They no longer operate within the logical realms of informed, experienced and committed sports administrators that we had known for the past 11 years.
One need not look far for the answer on the forces behind the stunning twists and turns such as firing, reinstatement and re-firing or inviting and immediately snubbing. The statements by Zanu PF officials who deem themselves fit to comment on sports bear testimony.
The editorial comments, letters pages and even news pages or bulletins in the state media will tell you what the ZCU is doing is a “gallant performance”.
MP Victor Chitongo had this to say in parliament recently: “Peter Chingoka and his board should just forget about the racists and concentrate on grooming the youthful team under Tatenda Taibu currently playing for the country.”
I have alluded before to the false impression of a smart guy running a smart sport smartly that I had developed towards Chingoka when he told me: “You guys want to mix politics with cricket, but we don’t view it that way at ZCU”. That was after President Robert Mugabe had been chosen for the umpteeneth time as the union’s patron.
Probably Chingoka has always been genuinely steadfast in his stance until seven weeks ago when he pressed the self-destruct button by changing his principle and going politics. That is his tragic flaw, in that case.
Or, if last year’s claim was not consistent with reality, we therefore should politely say, now the cat is out of the bag. We now know what those tall trees at Harare Sports Club have been shielding over the years.
And we therefore as a nation must simply request Chingoka to resign in shame. Together with his board, by the way, which I really doubt if it can stand by the confusion exuding from the decisions made lately.
The current provincial structures and other stakeholders would then call an early election and choose a new leadership.
This nonsense of a few individuals, whether brought together by political definition, race or some perceived unbridled power to stubbornly cling to destructive agendas won’t help the nation. Just step down Chingoka and allow for the revitalisation of cricket before it’s too late.